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SEP kills, but what is it?

Hungry and HomelessA great writer and thinker realised that there was a silent killer in society, one so powerful that it had the ability to blind people to its presence.

The writer was Douglas Adams who presented his observations through comedy.

“An S.E.P or ‘Somebody Else’s Problem field’ is a cheap, easy, and staggeringly useful way of safely protecting something from unwanted eyes. … Any object around which an S.E.P is applied will cease to be noticed because any problems one may have understanding it (and therefore accepting its existence) become Somebody Else’s.  An object becomes not so much invisible as unnoticed.”

What he was referring to was complacency combined with a reluctance to accept responsibility.  Whether we like it or not, we are all totally interconnected in a society, and therefore must share responsibility for its shape and behaviour as a whole

Why step over a piece of litter “tutting” at the individual that dropped it?  Are you now not responsible for having seen it but not picking it up and disposing of it?  Of course, it is much easier for us to pretend not to have seen it at all because it is somebody else’s problem.

How many times have we passed a beggar or someone collecting for charity on the streets and averted our eyes?  By not looking or acknowledging it existed, we made it somebody else’s problem.

How many times have we all watched politicians announce disastrous decisions or policies on the news or in the media and not picked up a pen or emailed our representatives?

Or seeing youths misbehaving in the community said “I blame it on…”, “the teachers”, “the parents” or “the government”?  Through blame we make it somebody else’s problem when perhaps the answer could have been to be more supportive of the local school or charities that deal with broken or disadvantaged families.

How many people do not vote because they feel that their vote doesn’t count?  In the UK, it is more than all the votes that are cast; if that number of people all voted the same way the party that received those votes would have a landslide victory.

People are so used to be told what to do by politicians and bosses that don’t listen or hear them, that they have lost their voices.  Sadly, in doing so, they have given away the only true freedom that they have

That child that died from neglect, that young man who committed suicide because he felt unsupported or alone, could have grown up to be the surgeon, paramedic or blood donor destined to save your life…

I dedicate this article to the memory of Douglas Adams, a great man who, like so many clowns and comedians before him, felt that society had become a cold and cruel machine and used comedy to survive it.

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